If you’ve ever been unfortunate enough to be in one of my seminars, you know that I list certain “rules.” Things such as:
And on it goes; there are many. I get a combination of groans or agreements, but one thing becomes very clear.
Most of “our” marketing problems are the same. Sometimes, you think your challenges are uniquely yours, until they’re highlighted as relatively common. (I guess that’s part of the reason group therapy is so successful.)
While this may give some initial comfort, you then realize if you don’t overcome this challenge, you’re still in the group with the problem! You’ve been shown a way out, even with other contractors as examples, and yet have not performed. To contractors with ambition, drive and goals … this will not do.
Those of you who seek success-conditioning (such as online training, seminars, books, mentoring and the like) will recognize the following.
Once you are shown a solution, you quit considering the problem as the villain and start thinking that not overcoming the problem is the real villain. Big, big difference in achievement right there. This becomes a driving motivator. Now, if this is true for you, it is equally true of your customers. Therein lies a success clue for more sales.
In marketing and selling, we want the villain to be “inactivity” or “doing things the same old way” or “not calling you.” I can assure you the villain is not always price. We advise our contractor coaching clients to not attempt to be the lowest-priced, but the highest-value contractor.
Common plumbing marketing villains1. Search engines. OK, I’d like to kill the search engines. It’s not enough that they rightfully boast about 65% of customer purchases from contractors beginning online, but they change the search rules every 15 minutes. Or less.
Your customers may enter “Plumbing in Poughkeepsie” on Tuesday and you came up on page 1. Yet on Thursday, you’re on page 5, out of sight of anyone, including your own mother. The problem is twofold:
• You’re not optimizing your listing according to the current rules. (And if you want a life, you’ll hire this service out because keeping up with them (i.e., the current rules) is only for web-marketing zombies.) This means at least a monthly refresh, using correctly tagged photos, and constant focus on updating links, new reviews, social posts and blogs. When you do this regularly, you show up on page 1. (Currently, 84% of our clients are on page 1 using these methods.)
• You’re not asking what search terms prospects are using. Have your CSR ask on every call, “And how did you find us today?” This is marketing research gold.
2. The utility. If you can’t make these guys enemies, you’re way too nice. The rate shifts, profit gouging (real or perceived) and the assumption that all utility bills are going up, all the time, even while you sleep, are enough to make almost anyone say, “No more Mr. Nice Guy!”
Showing an energy return on investment with higher-efficiency water heaters, for example, is a far more attractive way to “get back” at unstoppable rate hikes, rather than touting payback savings. Same with the “little leak” at the faucet. The longer you put it off, the more you overpay the utility, and then eventually you still have to replace it. Make the villain time and money, and you’ll get the sale. Next up …
3. The competition. This is the easiest enemy of all to beat, but be careful. No naming names. You merely want general acceptance that “some plumbers” perform substandardly by making you wait too long, or don’t show up, or “seem” to disappear when there’s a warranty claim. All can agree here.
Plus, you can remind prospects that many contractors don’t drug test. And some plumbing companies don’t invest in training, except to say, “Simon says fix burst pipe.”
Others may confuse homeowners with specs and dollars, but you show prices upfront and explain what you’re doing. Guarantees separate you even further. Many ways to win here; notice again, I didn’t put “cheapen your prices” as one of them. It’s not.
4. The “business as usual” approach. The norm ain’t good. Most customers get fiery-eyed at the customer service meltdown in all industries. Yet when you make a point of full disclosure, online rankings, appointment reminders, courteous follow-up, sending newsletters and thank-you cards that are not just trying to sell something, it makes you a standout in a sea of customer DIS-service.
Look, you’re not the norm; make that thoroughly obvious and appreciated.
5. Yourself. Funny one to pick, but you’re different … remember?
Sometimes plumbers may think their difference is that they care more, or train harder, or are more fair in their pricing. That’s fine, but if you don’t let customers know, you have only one person to blame if you lose a sale.
Same goes for mistakes. It’s OK to be human. Be honest and occasionally mention that you overbought (reason for a good discount) or should’ve alerted customers to a price increase earlier. Or you found out a tech who was recently “de-hired” might not have done work to your standards and you are calling to make sure everything is OK.
People greatly appreciate honesty and transparency, more today than ever. And they reward humanness, honesty and authenticity.
So if you’re not “employing” enemies in your sales and marketing, you’re not illustrating the contrast all customers use when they buy. And that means your leads and sales are not as high as you’d like, which I’ll bet is an enemy you’d like to beat.